What truly defines a hero? Is it having superpowers and weapons to defeat villains and save cities? Or is it having a selfless heart to serve people, inspire courage, and offer hope? Jezrel, a vegetable farmer from Zamboanga del Sur, embodies the latter and represents the true essence of heroism.

Growing up with farming as his family’s livelihood, there is no doubt that Jezrel Carreon has a big place for farming in his heart. After working as a production supervisor in Cebu, he decided to go back to his hometown in Zamboanga del Sur where he also started his own family. And with less than a hectare of rented land, he began vegetable farming as his primary livelihood. 

“When I started vegetable farming, I did not plant any other crops. Here, the harvest is good enough to provide for our everyday living. This is our only livelihood,” he said. Earning more income compared before, he then pursued vegetable farming even more. Today, he grows vegetables on more than twelve hectares of land. 

Jezrel also observed that there is more yield with vegetable farming compared to other crops given that its harvest period is longer; hence providing more potential income. However, vegetable farming is not a smooth road to take. Like any other farmer, he is challenged by the fluctuating market prices of vegetable crops, which sometimes returns a relatively lower income.

But this struggle does not stop him. Jezrel recalled a time when East-West Seed came to their municipality and introduced different seed varieties to try. This was timely then, as he was yearning to learn better vegetable farming practices. Planting the varieties Galaxy F1 bitter gourd, Fortuner F1 eggplant, Diamante Max F1 tomato, and Emperor F1 sweet pepper provided him more yield, because his vegetables are more resistant to plant diseases. With these new varieties, he is able to grow not just his crop produce, but also his knowledge and skills as a vegetable farmer through the assistance of East-West Seed’s technicians. 

Jezrel's success in vegetable farming has truly changed his life. He was able to acquire additional farmland, a house, and vehicles, and was able to provide for his family, including sending his three children to school. He is thankful to East-West Seed for being his trusted partner through the years. 

When it comes to reliable seeds, it's really East-West Seed. For 32 years now, from then until now, I have continued to plant vegetables using East-West seeds, added Jezrel.

Jezrel's success also inspired his fellow farmers in the community to seek his guidance in vegetable farming. He recognized the need to help others, especially those who have insufficient daily income, and saw it as an opportunity to give back to the community. 

“I realized that it is better for us to help other people. Here in our place, many people have insufficient daily income,” he shared.

This need of his fellow farmers to earn more also urged him to impart to them not just the learning he gained from the seminars conducted by East-West Seed, but also the seed varieties for them to also try. To do this, he would willingly visit fellow farmers weekly to give an extra hand in their vegetable farming. 

“I’m happy, because they give big smiles when I visit them. My heart is happy knowing that we are helping many people,” Jezrel shared.

Jezrel is not only helping his fellow farmers but is also working with their local government unit to establish an organization that aims to support poor farmers and increase their chances of success. He may not have indestructible armor or great strength, but his heart and dedication to serving his community make Jezrel a true farmer-hero.